Johnson: When disaster strikes, be prepared

Community voice

Published: Monday, Aug. 26, 2013 6:00 a.m. CDT
Caption
Perry Johnson

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, September has been a time when governments place a concentrated focus on national preparedness by hosting observance events, initiating educational outreach campaigns and conducting citizen training and other activities meant to increase the preparedness capabilities of our nation’s citizens and businesses.

While no individual or business can prepare for every conceivable disaster, preparedness starts with a “risk assessment” to determine which disaster has the greatest likelihood of occurring in their community. Probable risks for those living in northern Illinois include flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, ice storms and blizzards. A functional risk assessment is the foundation for all preparedness planning for your family or business.

Preparedness planning is critical to making sure you adequately manage the risks identified in the assessment. One premiere online resource for residents and businesses is www.ready.gov, which includes a host of preparedness resources to help you safeguard your family or business. In addition, a fully developed plan should consider non-home locations such as a theater, library, church, workplace, school or shopping mall to determine what to do if an emergency occurred at that location.

Key elements of a preparedness plan include a list of emergency public information sources that help you take appropriate precautions in the initial stages of a disaster, such as text or e-mail alerts, radio and TV broadcast alerts, Carol Stream City Watch and severe weather sirens. Another essential plan element includes assembling the needed resources to allow you to either evacuate or shelter-in-place, which is a decision strongly influenced by the specific circumstances of the disaster event. Factors to keep in mind in preparing your emergency plan can be found at www.ready.gov/considerations

Because a disaster can occur suddenly and without warning, familiarity with your preparedness plan is best developed by practicing it before an emergency occurs. Planning, training, drilling and refining is a continuous preparedness cycle that never ends for individuals, families or response agencies.

September is a time when Carol Stream residents can join with citizens from all across the nation to better prepare themselves and their families for when the next disaster occurs.

Perry Johnson is the emergency management coordinator of the Carol Stream Fire Protection District

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